With just days to go until the NFoPP AGM this Friday, disquiet among members appears to be growing.
EYE has heard a number of concerns:
- The blocking of Chris Wood’s application to stand as vice-president of Propertymark NAEA.
- The proposal to cut the size of the NFoPP board which critics say will reduce the input that members have into the governance of their organisation.
- The proposal that the Presidents of both NAEA and ARLA can attend board meetings but not be allowed to speak or vote unless invited by the chairman; critics say this would mean their roles would be ‘neutered’.
- The proposal to appoint an executive chairman, given that ex-Ombudsman Christopher Hamer is already in the post to which, it has emerged, he was appointed last year; there appears to be absolutely no criticism among members of Hamer himself.
- Alleged lack of consultation, transparency and communication on the proposals prior to the AGM.
- The accounts – which show a loss for the second year running – were apparently sent out after members had been asked to vote; critics say that by this Friday’s AGM, the ‘vast majority’ of members will have voted.
- Reports that one person – believed to be NFoPP finance director Rob Clutton – has been placed on gardening leave and is understood to have invoked a grievance procedure; a second person, believed to be head of marketing Brian Schubert, is now understood to have left – with absolutely no suggestion of any wrongdoing.
- The main concerns among members appear to be how transparent the organisation is, how it communicates and consults with members, and its direction of travel in the future – with questions asked as to whether NFoPP has ambitions to become a consumer-facing regulatory body, tasked for example with overseeing the impending lettings fee ban.
In particular, the College of Fellows – made up of some 50 experienced NAEA and ARLA agents plus members of the other NFoPP associations – has so far been unanimous in its concerns.
College members have been internally canvassed for their opinions on three questions: whether they agreed with the proposed changes; whether they were against the proposed changes; and whether they considered it appropriate that NFoPP members were able to register their vote online, without knowledge of the accounts.
Of the 30 of so Fellows who responded to the informal consultation, we are told that every single one voted no, yes and no. However, the College has no official standing when it comes to official voting.
Separately, agents EYE has spoken to are all backing what they believe is Wood’s right to stand for the role of vice-president.
They say their understanding is that constitutionally, any member can stand providing they have both a proposer and a seconder. They also say that they have never known a candidacy blocked before.
However, NAEA chief executive Mark Hayward has insisted that the interview panel which stopped Wood’s name going forward was part of a perfectly legitimate process.
While declining to comment on internal staff matters, Hayward has said that the proposals about the size of the board and the ability of Presidents to speak and vote are being put democratically.
EYE understands that while some possibilities have been considered – including the calling of an Extraordinary General Meeting – the likelihood is that this Friday’s AGM will simply go ahead as a better attended and perhaps livelier event than has previously been the case.